It All Takes Time
Updated: Jul 2, 2020
I think this blog post gonna be more of a good reminder for me but I'm glad when you can also get something out of it. I started this blog to keep track of my development, practice my written self-expression skills, additionally share some knowledge and skills. There is one thing that surprises me almost every time when I have a photo session - it's what I did right. I know that there is still plenty to learn and gain, but there is some point in life where book smarts aren't enough and you just have to do it.
BEATING YOURSELF UP
I do not wish to tell you a fairy-tale that you are as good as you are. As long as you have desires and goals you are not as good as you are. But accept where you are - maybe beginning in the journey of your goal or thousand steps ahead. When I started my career I was always admiring and comparing to other high-end photographers - "Why I can't do something like this?", "How they are so talented?", "They are so lucky!", "It's so effortless for them." and many more. Little did I know that all I saw was hard work and step-by-step I understood that it is all hard work with self-doubts and full of self-transcendences. I remember pretty clearly first times introducing myself as photographer, first big commercial shoot back home, walking into the studio in a new city or contacting modeling agencies - it all takes time, don't be too harsh to yourself, trust the process
ASK CRITIQUE FROM PROFESSIONALS
Another thing that I learned is to ask opinions and critique from professionals. I slowly discovered that really good photographers usually don't share their photos in public forums or Facebook groups. I use to do that and sometimes got back a little sh£t-storm. Probably out of ten comments there was one that explained that could have done better and how to do it. Other 2/3 were how this is off and that is bad. And as a beginner, you start believing those negative comments. Until one day I went to one of those negative commenter Facebook page and he had nothing there. So I started to go to other commenters' social media pages and the same pattern reappeared - same passport-style underlit non-distinctive photos. Soon after that I stopped posting and left those groups - they had nothing to offer for me.
Valuable opinions and critique comes from valuable people. Try to find that kind of person and try to work with them (even if it is for free). Luckily I can say that I have a few of those people in my life and I'm happy when they notice little shadows or bumps in my photos. They also explain how to fix them or what to do better next time. And it doesn't feel so soul-crushing - because professionals have standards.
FIND SOMEONE(S) TO LOOK UP TO
Continuing from the last topic ... find someone(s) to look up to - dead or alive. If they are alive you can send them messages, comment on their work or even meet up. I think that so many people like to pretend that they have answers to all the questions, they like to show that they are so cool. Just be honest and if you have something good to say just share it, you never know where it could lead or what opportunities may open up. Still, it should be genuine and shouldn't expect something back.
I remember when I met and stayed with one of my idols whose book I have read and material have worked through. Eric Von Sydow is a guy who mainly focuses on male mental health and development. One day he posted on Facebook that his friend list is full and he needs to make more room, so if you are interested in what he has to say and share let him know. I wrote honestly that I haven't bought any of his programs or material, but I enjoy his free content and admire his work. He asked my email and later sent me a few hundred dollars worth material. A few years later I visited him San Diego and stayed in his place for a week.
TALENT IS WORK
"You are so talented!" is probably my favorite sentence. I use to talk down myself that there is no point in doing it because I don't have the talent in that area or profession. Now I think that talent isn't something we are born with, I think it's hard work and environment we are surrounded with. Of course, there are many cases where dad/mom is a talented artist (musician, painter, photographer etc.) and their offspring is also good at their parents' career choice. We can call it "talent" but we also gotta remind our selves that those kids are growing up in this kind of environment - their parents do, speak, share and practice those things probably daily and kids pick this up.
For me, it's work and practice! There is only a certain amount of books-smart you can obtain, at some point you gotta have to do it, implement it and practice it. And every time you do it it's gonna click more and more. Your choices are coming more conscious and your style comes more apparent. You start more to understand what does what and when to do it.
To get my choices more conscious I started doing lists after every photo session. I took little notepapers and clued into my time scheduler. Three columns - "GOOD", "NOT SO GOOD" and "FOR NEXT TIME". And in each column, I tried to least get three points that I did good on this session, what didn't go so good and what I'm going to do better next time. It helps and the list of "NOT SO GOOD" is getting shorter every time.
NURTURE YOURSELF WITH EDUCATION
No doubt that we learn all of our life and still die stupid. I like to learn new things, every now and then, hang out with photographers, doing photography-related courses, browsing magazines and watching content from Youtube. I think it all helps and I remind myself that there is always something new to learn. On Youtube, I find so many talented (I mean hard-working) people and their content is amazing. I wonder how did they get to this knowledge and how long it took them to get to that level.
Just like a bodybuilder doesn't see growth and development straight away from a mirror, the same issue lays with everything else. Sometimes it feels like we haven't developed at all and we are still doing same stupid stuff.
Talk about stupid stuff, I used to delete almost all of my photos - I only kept photos that I posted somewhere and looked very good. So basically I had only two or three photos from every session saved, not double or tripled backed up. Until one day friend visited me from Germany and upon her leaving she secretly left external hard-drive with an awesome note.
Pretty much after that, I started to archive my photos and RAW files. Today I do triple archiving to edited photos and RAW files that went through the initial culling process. With archives, it is good to keep an eye on the process. Sometimes I take RAW file that I have edited already and edit them again to see my end results and how much they differ.
These are just few thoughts that have companied me on my development. Fear has big eyes, but if you don't do anything that slightly scares you is it even worth doing it? I don't mean to live a life in a constant state of fear, but I feel I should push myself more sometimes. Still I' m very happy about what I'm doing and where I'm going. Still not revealing my plans, but I can tell that something big is baking and coming out soon.